IBM is to pour millions of dollars into supporting its applications business partner programme in the biggest overhaul of its $13.1 billion software business since pulling out of the apps market in 1999.
The company intends to focus its sales and development efforts around a dozen vertical industries. It will retrain its staff so that more than half of its 13,000 worldwide sales employees focus on industry-specific product sets as well as shifting marketing and development efforts away from a focus on IBM's five software brands and toward cross-brand application packages.
IBM will kick off 2004 with the roll out of middleware packages for vertical industries such as insurance, banking, financial services, automotive, retail, consumer packaged goods, utilities, telecommunications, electronics, health care, government and life sciences.
From a partnership perspective, IBM intends to adjust its channel programme to bring ISVs, such as Siebel and PeopleSoft, closer into the fold by coupling their applications with IBM’s own industry specific middleware. These third party applications will be co-marketed by IBM and optimised for IBM software and hardware platforms. An IBM spokesman said there would be a series of technology and marketing enabling programs to tie third party applications to IBM middleware.